The Past & Future of Adult Learning
Learning for adults is a field of study in and of itself. The study of adult learning, or andragogy, has come a long way and it is a relatively new idea. Society has tended to be so focused on teaching children, that only in the last century or so have educators come to realize that different methods should be used to more successfully educate adult learners. One of the main ideas that must be realized when looking at learning as an adult, is that adults tend to learn things quite differently than children. The term andragogy, known as “the art and science of helping adults learn” (Henschke, 2011, p.34) was first used “to recognize the needs and features of this distinct learning population and to separate adult learning theory from traditional pedagogy” (Knowles, 1974, as cited in Kenner & Weinerman, 2011). Adult learners also tend to be more goal motivated and ready to learn, since they are attending classes by their own choice (Knowles, 1984, as cited in Kenner & Weinerman, 2011, p.87), therefore further differentiating the needs of adult learners from those of children. Back in the early twentieth century, people began researching adult learning, as the field of teaching adults was a relatively new professional field. Early researchers such as Edward L. Thorndike, Elsie O. Bregman, J. Warren Tilton, and Ella Woodyard, the authors of Adult Learning, published in 1908, took a very behavioral psychological approach to testing the abilities of adults as learners. They were concerned with rather or not adults could really learn at all. Their experiments tested people under timed conditions and tested people on various tasks of learning and memory. Adults were tested against children in these experiments. The children seemed to have more learning ability than the adults in the experiments. Initially, the results of such testing tended to lean towards the idea that the younger a person was, the higher their ability...
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Kenner, C., & Weinerman, J. (2011). Adult learning theory: Applications to non-traditional college students. Journal of College Reading & Learning, 41(2), 87-96. Retrieved from: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=6b1b2104-c8c2-4856-b78a-70a8c5a195b9%40sessionmgr110&vid=6&hid=110
Merriam, S. B. (2001). Andragogy and self-directed learning: Pillars of adult learning theory. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (89), 3. Retrieved from: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=313bf86b-09e9-490a-a86a-19a835445538%40sessionmgr113&vid=8&hid=119
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